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Sales Managers Share Pitch Presentation Best Practices

Today I met with a group of sales managers to share best practices around customer presentations and what some call “pitch” presentations. Even though some might frown upon the word “pitch”, for its negative presentation sentiment, the concept is still strong.  We agreed that the criteria of what makes a great pitch has evolved from selling to solving problems from a monologue to a dialogue and from talking to a prospect to engaging in a collaborative conversation.

I believe the word “pitch” still works and today we talked about resetting their sales teams on the attributes of a winning pitch and great customer engagements.  Here is the output of a list of pitch best practices created by a group of sales managers.  This is a great example of crowdsourcing sales best practices from sales leaders.

1.  Listen and let the customer talk first: Start the meeting by asking a few simple questions: “I’m prepared to discuss our solution for you, but has anything changed since we last spoke?” or  “Is there anything else I need to know before diving into the presentation?” Remind your sales team of the importance of keeping your customers talking.

2.  Have an agenda: It’s a simple idea but so critical. It sets the tone and improves the professionalism of the experience. We all know that we need to do it.  The sales manager aligned on making it mandatory in every customer meeting and even internal meetings too.

3.  Focus on customer business problems:  Rather than be product focused have the context of the meeting always be about the customer.  Solve big problems and keep the meeting (and sales teams) focused on the value of solving those problems.
4. Ask questions: Always be curious and ask open ended questions. Pause in meetings to check in with customers to see if they’re getting what they expected from their time investment.
5.Make it conversational: The meeting isn’t a keynote address and should not be a monologue. Many times sales managers end up stepping in to help a meeting that is a bit dry and boring by engaging customers in a conversation. This always becomes a great coaching opportunity.
6.Respect time constraints: Be professional and mindful about the meeting time. Note that there are time constraints on both sides. Set the right expectation from the beginning and check in on progress.
7.Customize to your customer: We love marketing presentation especially ones that can be easily customized to meet customer needs. Use your customer’s logos, language and stories to paint a picture of their future.
8.Share next steps: An important part of every meeting is about helping to move the deal forward. A great way to do it is to be transparent about next steps.  Just like an agenda, make a next steps slide or open conversation part of every meeting format.
9.Practice the pitch: I was reminded of the importance of this part of the pitch. It’s important to practice the pitch with the sales team but even more important to practice the pitch with your customer champion or internal coach too.

10. Turn your pitch into a story: One sales manager shared that she has her salespeople do the pitch without the slides in a dry run or a practice session to make it more of a story.  Start with why the meeting is happening and the expected outcomes. Outline the customer challenges and pain. Map the problems to business value and quantify it as best as you can. Share customer proof points. Explain how this solution can become reality. Then close with next steps.

It’s Q4 and every meeting count. Make your pitch presentations the best they can be. Happy selling.

About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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